How to Identify Melanoma

The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that nearly 5 million people in the United States undergo treatment for melanoma every year. As is the case with many of the foot and ankle conditions we successfully treat for our patients here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, skin cancer is best handled at the earliest stage possible. Knowing how to identify signs of melanoma is essential for ensuring that you can receive the help you need when the cancer is most treatable.

 

When detected early, the survival rate for melanoma in the U.S. is around 98 percent. If the cancer spreads and reaches lymph nodes or metastasizes to distant organs, that number drops significantly. Hopefully this illustrates the importance of being able to identify the warning signs.

 

Your health is our main focus, so we want you to be aware of moles or spots on your skin that are suspicious. To help, follow the ABCDE’s of skin cancer:

  • Asymmetrical – If you were to draw a line halfway through a mole, both sides should roughly mirror the other. Moles that are markedly different between the two halves constitute cause for concern and should be investigated.
  • Borders – Blurred edges surrounding a mole is a warning sign of melanoma. Normal moles have distinct borders.
  • Coloration – Benign, harmless moles are generally the same color—often tan or brown—all the way across. A variety of colors or differing shades may indicate a problem.
  • Diameter – Moles that are larger than the size of a normal pencil-tip eraser (approximately ¼ inch or 6mm in diameter) should raise a red flag. Smaller ones that do not have any of these other warning signs are more likely to be safe.
  • Evolving – Sometimes change is good, but not in cases of suspicious-looking moles. Harmless, common moles do not change in appearance over time.

 

If you observe any spots on your feet or lower limbs that meet the ABCDE’s of melanoma, schedule an appointment with our Austin, TX office. A simple in-office biopsy of the mole will provide a definitive diagnosis and prognosis to either give you peace of mind or help set you up with a treatment plan. If you notice one elsewhere on your body, be sure to get in touch with your primary physician as soon as possible. To reach us here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, call (512) 328-8900 or use our online form and schedule your appointment today.

 

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Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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